A Message to the Volunteer Fire Service About COVID-19

To my family – the volunteer firefighters of America:

Greetings! I know that many of you have been struggling with the COVID pandemic and its effects upon the volunteer fire service. This has taken on many different faces. The volunteer fire service is a FAMILY and family members help one another. That means that your state associations and your National Volunteer Fire Council are stepping up to the plate every day to assist you – just as your firefighters are day in and day out handling our neighbor’s emergencies.

  1. I know that financially our departments are struggling. Many of you rely upon donations and other fundraisers to stay alive. Believe me, I know full well how challenging that part of the mission has been for you. Click here for information about what other departments are doing to try and offset the financial losses that they have incurred. If you have questions, reach out to us and we will do everything within our power to assist or make connections with someone who may have ideas that might work for you. I am fearful that the lack of resources will spill over to firefighter safety when equipment, apparatus, and programs suffer from the lack of funding.
  2. There are challenges with how to train. Please do check out the webinars and online training classes that are available at the National Volunteer Fire Council web site. If you are a member of the NVFC those classes are free, and in cooperation with your state associations, even for those of you who are not members, we are offering free classes with your state associations. We know that even with COVID the need for training our members in everything from basic pump operations to cancer awareness has increased. If you cannot train as a company in person, you can do so virtually with the resources we can offer.
  3. I know that many of you are facing challenges to recruitment of new firefighters and COVID has made this even more difficult. The NVFC has many resources to offer through the Make Me A Firefighter department portal that will help you with customizable materials to assist in your recruitment efforts. Recruitment is a 24/7/365 effort. We cannot get behind – and the NVFC has something to offer to you to assist in recruitment and retention efforts. View some tips here.
  4. We were already experiencing a significant increase in health-related situations with our firefighters – be it cancer, heart health, nutrition, fitness, or mental health – and COVID has brought all of these issues to the forefront. Just because I made this #4 does not reflect the importance that I put on these issues. They are real, but they can be managed and overcome. The resources of the NVFC are outstanding. Please check them out at www.nvfc.org.

These are not all of the challenges we face, but they are the big ones as we manage this period of COVID and as we begin to recover from this virus. The volunteer fire service from its beginnings with Benjamin Franklin certainly had many challenges, but is there anything you have ever done that has been so rewarding? You all have stepped up in amazing ways both before COVID and during COVID to protect the people in your communities. I expect no less in the future from the most creative, the most professional, the most competent, and the most compassionate of all groups in our great land – the volunteer fire service!

Thank you for what you do and know that your state associations and the National Volunteer Fire Council are going to do everything we can to aid you in the recovery. We will recover. We will be stronger. Our FAMILY will continue our mission of taking care of those people that need our help.

Yours truly in service to the nation,

Steve Hirsch
Chairman, National Volunteer Fire Council
Training Chief, Sheridan County (Kansas) Volunteer Fire Department
785.470.7120 (cell)